GONZAGA

NCAA Tournament: Gonzaga gets 3 seed in loaded West Region

Mar 12, 2023, 4:04 PM | Updated: 7:55 pm

Gonzaga Anton Watson Drew Timme...

Anton Watson and Drew Timme of Gonzaga slap hands during a March 7, 2023 WCC Tournament game. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Gonzaga Bulldogs find themselves in a loaded section of the bracket in their 24th straight men’s basketball NCAA Tournament.

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The Zags, ranked ninth in the most recent Associated Press poll, are the No. 3 seed in the West Region and will open play at 4:35 p.m. Friday in Denver against 14 seed Grand Canyon (televised on TruTV). But once you start looking ahead in the region, there is ample opportunity for marquee matchups for the Zags.

Like in the Sweet 16, where there could be a rematch of Gonzaga’s epic Final Four win two years ago over UCLA. The Bruins, who are ranked No. 2 in the AP poll but lost the Pac-12 Championship game Saturday 61-59 to No. 8 Arizona, are the second seed in the region.

In the other half of the West Region, No. 3 Kansas is the top seed, with No. 11 UConn the fourth seed and No. 16 Saint Mary’s – who shared the WCC regular season championship with Gonzaga – the fifth seed.

See the full NCAA Tournament bracket

Gonzaga goes into the tournament with a 28-5 overall record and on a nine-game win streak, most recently having blown out Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament title game 77-51 on March 7.

This campaign hasn’t seen the same kind of dominance that the Zags have been used to, as they suffered losses early in the season to No. 7 Texas, No. 5 Purdue and No. 10 Baylor, plus defeats in WCC play to Loyola Marymount (which halted Gonzaga’s 75-game home win streak) and Saint Mary’s. Gonzaga’s best non-conference wins came against No. 23 Kentucky, No. 11 Xavier and No. 4 Alabama.

Grand Canyon (24-11) finished fourth in the regular season standings in the WAC but won four straight games last week in the conference tournament – including against Seattle U – to earn the WAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Lopes shoot 38.3% from 3-point land as a team and are paced on offense by guard Rayshon Harrison (17.7 points per game).

Senior forward Drew Timme, who set the Gonzaga school record for most career points last week, leads the Bulldogs with 20.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Julian Strawther, a 6-foot-7 guard, adds 15.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, and the Zags remain plenty deep thanks to players like forward Anton Watson and guards Rasir Bolton, Malachi Smith and Seattle native Nolan Hickman.

Women’s Basketball NCAA Tournament

While the Zags are the lone team from Washington state in the men’s bracket, both Gonzaga and Pac-12 Tournament champion WSU are in the women’s tournament.

WSU (23-10) is a No. 5 seed and will meet 12 seed Florida Gulf Coast next Saturday in Philadelphia.

Gonzaga (28-4) is headed to Stanford, Calif., on Friday as a No. 9 seed to face No. 8 seed Ole Miss (23-8).

Men’s NIT

The WSU men’s basketball team (17-16) will get some postseason action, and the Cougars’ opponent is certainly an interesting one: Eastern Washington (22-10), which will make the one hour, 20 minute drive from Cheney to Pullman’s Beasley Coliseum for an 8 p.m. Tuesday matchup in the first round of the NIT.

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